How to clean and care for diapers
Lets get dirty...In a clean way!
People often tell us that the idea of washing cloth diapers is the biggest drawback for them. We PROMISE, once you get the hang of it, the laundry is no big deal and not that much extra work. Really.
Now, how to wash your diapers?
This is ONE option
However, we have found that this makes a rather big mess in the rest of the house, which ultimately creates even more work for you...A big no, no. Because of this, we recommend a simple dry pail to washer technique.
Here We Go...
Lets start with the pail.
After the diapers come off your precious little bundle, carrying a load of not-so-precious-cargo, they are generally placed into a pail. A Planetwise Pail liner is a great option, as is a large hanging wetbag.
Just toss the diapers in right after you take them off your baby.
Ahhh...But what about the poop?
We know what you are thinking.
There is poop in those diapers, and they go right into the pail? And then right into my washer? Yes. And, Yes. Trust us, its no big deal and it will all be OK.
Mother Nature is way ahead of us. See, the poo of breastfed babies is water soluble. Which means that it all dissolves and is flushed away IN the wash cycle. How convenient is that?! For babies that are formula fed, or when solids are introduced, things get a little bit more...Well, sticky, but its nothing a little spray at the toilet can't fix.
Diaper Sprayers (sometimes called mini-showers) attach right to the toilet. All you do is hold the dirty diaper over the toilet, and with a quick blast of water all the waste goes into the pot and can be flushed away. Disposable and flushable liners are another option. It may not sound very glamorous right now, but we promise, it's much easier than you ever imagined.
First step: Collect the diapers. A load of about two dozen is a good size.
If you are using pocket diapers or liners, simply separate them from the diapers and put them in the wash machine individually.
Contrary to what you may be thinking, the LESS detergent you use, the better. There is a VERY short list of detergents that are acceptable to use on cloth diapers. Here's why; if you just close your eyes and keep dumping in any soap, the diapers will get a build-up on them, and the won't be as effective. Essentially, you can wash the absorbency OUT of your cloth if you don't follow some simple, but specific guidelines when it comes to detergent.
The biggest thing we want to stress is to pick a detergent that is free of all chemicals and dyes. Never use a detergent labeled "Free and Clear." Ever. The detergent that we have both used and love is Country Save, which we proudly carry it in our store. Thirsties also has a wash system that was created especially for cloth diapers. Both are good choices.
Whatever brand you decide to use, be stingy. You want to be adding very little actual detergent-only about a 1/4th of what you would normally add-to the wash cycle and even less in a washer that is energy efficient...And speaking of wash cycles....
The COLD rinse. The first thing you want to do is run the load of diapers through a COLD/COLD wash or a COLD rinse or soak, AND a HOT wash, followed by 1-2 COLD rinses. This process is what will ensure that your diapers get clean. Its is the water that cleans them, not the soap.
Fifth Step: Dry the diapers. If you can air or line dry them, that is cheapest. A nice line dry in the spring and summer not only smells fresh, but the sun will naturally take out stains (once again, Mother Nature is way ahead of us.) Plus, all those diapers look so darn cute hanging on the clothesline! The dryer is also an option, you just want to make sure to separate the diaper covers. They should be primarily air dried. However, an occasional run through the dryer is OK for them, and will help to seal the PUL and keep them water proof-a good thing for a diaper cover to be!
Once they diapers are ready for the dryer, a 60-90 minute cycle will usually get all of them dry. The thicker diapers like All In 2's (AI2's) or All In Ones (AIO's) may require some extra attention. Throwing a bath towel in with them also can help expedite the drying process.
And Voilà! After they are dried, simply take them out and fold them if you wish, and they are ready to go through the whole cycle once again.
That is the basic laundry routine. Of course, there will be some variables that affect your individual loads. Water type, style of washer and detergent used will all yield slightly different results. But, once you wash a few loads with some patience and tweaking, you will have it down in no time. Really.
Naturally, there will be times when your diapers need a little extra "Umph." That is when you do an extra couple of rinses or strip the diapers. There are (of course) many schools of thought on the best way to strip your diapers. We will offer some of our own suggestions here:
Strip Routines (it sounds dirty...But its clean!)